Today, Liverpool BNP activist and donor Peter Tierney - found guilty of Actual Bodily Harm last month - was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court.
Although the BNP had organised a protest in support of Tierney, Liverpool Antifascists had been wary of calling a public counter-demonstration, given that the last two call outs had resulted in the court date being moved and thus numbers being diminished.
They did eventually announce a demo. But what last-minute rescheduling had done to previous actions, a late call out did to this one. Many members found themselves unable to get time off work, whilst a lot of students who have also previously supported Liverpool Antifascists' actions were away from the city. This was disappointing, but given the circumstances perhaps couldn't be helped.
For their part, the BNP didn't fare all that better. The vast majority of their members jobless*, and their ranks swelled by a contingent bussed-in from Salford, they still numbered twenty at most.
Once again, pre-recorded chants and speeches were the order of the day, the party obviously not trusting its members to deliver those things for themselves. The gems on offer, all nationalist plagiarism of common UAF chants, included "the UAF is the Labour Party, smash the UAF" and "British Jobs for British Workers - smash the TUC!"
For anybody who isn't keeping up, this economic arrangement - corporatist protectionism combined with the destruction of the trade union movement - is fascism.
Anti-union sentiment was high on the demonstration, with placards proclaiming "Don't trust the TUC," and a "Smash the TUC" banner standing next to their "racism cuts both ways" ones. The most bizarre, though, was one which read "The Unite union funds the UAF who urinate on our war memorials."
Yes, you read that right. I doubt that the BNP have mixed Unite Against Fascism up with the English Defence League, who pissed on Nottingham Castle back in December. More likely, they're falsely associating Philip Laing - the idiot who urinated on a Sheffield war memorial last October - with UAF. In fact, Laing was out of his mind on drunken student night Carnage, and the Royal British Legion said afterwards that it "is satisfied that what Mr Laing did was not a wilful act of vandalism or desecration and was not a political protest."
And yet, the BNP had the nerve to make a complaint about Liverpool Antifascists handing out this leaflet (PDF). Apparently, stating the fact that he'd been convicted and making a point about political violence in fascism is unacceptable. Unlike false claims of monument desecration.
Karen Otty, Liverpool BNP's former secretary with links to both the EDL and neo-Nazis, threw an absolute hissy fit when Liverpool Antifascists complied with the police request to stop giving out the leaflets ... on the condition that they had to put away their banner as well.
Having realised by this point that we could still talk to people, most of whom were avoiding the BNP contingent, and tell them what Tierney was guilty of, it seemed a small price to pay to piss them off.
Informing the party that they had the Union Flag upside down and back to front evoked no such reaction from the "proud patriots." Hazel Hesketh and Veronika Martel, whose main contribution to the BNP's first Crown Court protest was banging pots and pans, simply shrugged and continued to chant out of step with the recording.
Inside the court, Tierney was sentenced to 100 hours community service. Which he could do at any time as long as it was completed in 12 months. This seems lax by comparison to pensioners sent to jail for council tax evasion, for example, especially when the protest outside was shouting "Shame" as Andrew Tierney's pre-recorded, rambling polemic declared "shame on this criminal justice system."
After this, the BNP protesters told the police that they would leave only when the antifascists were gone. Not having the numbers to wait it out and see them scuttle off first, we waited until the BNP's pre-recorded chanting fell silent before moving on.
It was a shame, and it would have been good to have more numbers, but ultimately we made our point. Tierney's guilt in the St George's Day attack has been established, and more of the public know what he did.
It is also good to see the end of a circus that has been dragged on for far too long.
*This is not an attack or a condemnation but an objective fact. For my thoughts on the unemployed and welfare, see here.